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Explore the ways in which relationships are shaped and influenced by traditional cultural expectations in the short stories you have studied. I will discuss two short stories Country Lovers by Nadine Gordimer and Veronica by A

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Introduction

Explore the ways in which relationships are shaped and influenced by traditional cultural expectations in the short stories you have studied. Relationships - platonic and intimate - are sometimes built from cultural expectations; but to what extent are people willing to go to uphold those traditions? I will discuss two short stories "Country Lovers" by Nadine Gordimer and "Veronica" by Adewale Maja Pearce, in which both focus on close relationships which are condemned from the start due to strict and uncompromising cultural expectations. Cultural influences are portrayed strongly by the non-British writers; one is set in an unnamed African village, and the other Apartheid South Africa. Both stories tragically show the destructive effect on relationships, when a tenacious fixation with tradition causes them to be obeyed beyond the point of humaneness, and everything else - including love - is disregarded. In "Country Lovers" the protagonists Paulus (heir to wealthy farming business) and Thebedi (a black farm worker) form an inter-racial relationship in the period of Apartheid rule in South Africa. During Apartheid the divide between blacks and whites was immense. Skin colour determined every aspect of social life. Whilst the affluent whites had their own well-equipped facilities, living in large houses and having well-paid jobs, blacks had to manage with a much lower standard of life. "Apartheid laws prohibited most social contact between races" (Microsoft Encarta 2006) ...read more.

Middle

They then go into deep conversation, and during this scene the writer uses lots of descriptive language and imagery to depict their surroundings, such as, "twisted and tugged at the roots of white stinkwood and Cape willow trees that loped out of the eroded earth around them" and "old, and eaten trees held in place by vigorous ones, wild asparagus brushing up between the trunks, and here and there prickly-pear cactus sunken-skinned and bristly". This technique may have been used prolong Paulus and Thebedi's scene of happiness and contentment with each other - "she laughed a lot...sharing her amusement with the cool shady earth". Another view is that nature is the only thing around them, it is not discriminatory and doesn't judge them allowing them to be happy. The turning point in the story is when Paulus and Thebedi have intercourse and it is a blissful time, it says "they were not afraid of one another...this time it was so lovely, so lovely he was surprised". Although, due to the segregation of the time inter-racial relationships were forbidden (as they were illegal) and so their meetings had to be secret, for being found out would have incurred harsh punishments and being socially shunned. Paulus and Thebedi hide their love from others, specifically by making excuses for Thebedi's gift "she told her father the missus had given these (gilt hoop earrings) ...read more.

Conclusion

The relationship between Veronica and Okeke is told solely from Okeke's point of view as he gives a background, until he talks of his leaving the village. The writer could have done this to show that Veronica's situation was probably much worse than Okeke knew about, and so the reader would imagine terrible things would happen to her whilst Okeke heard "screams in the night", and so empathise with her more. This technique could be seen as building tension and anticipation for when they meet, or to show that this crucial dialogue is a very important part of the story. A turning point in the story when Okeke and Veronica's friendship is ended by Okeke's plans to leave his home village and make a life for himself in the city, whilst Veronica refuses to abandon her family. The parting conversation shows just how much cultural tradition has been impressed on Veronica. When Okeke suggests that she leave the village, she replies "Me!". This could be vewed as mock indignance, because she feels that Okeke is telling her to forget her set role in society, or it could be seen as genuine surprise at him suggesting that she should give up everything near to her. Okeke then asks for her reasons for staying and she says 'I can't just leave my family'. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rachel Cutenar 11HYB English Mr Newall ...read more.

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